There are 70 different species of sunflower and something like 100 commonly grown varieties in the species Helianthus annuus. Also called the common sunflower this is the species that most sunflower varieties commonly grown exist in.
Helianthus maximiliani and Helianthus tuberosus (the Jerusalem Artichoke) are other commonly grown species in the sunflower genus Helianthus.
The Jerusalem Artichoke is a perennial sunflower that produces edible tubers underground. Up to 6 sunflowers can grow from one root system. Be careful planting this one in the garden though as that amazing root system can run rampant and destroy the productivity of other garden crops.
There are also other sunflowers in different genus’s such as fake sunflowers under the genus Heliopsis and Tithonia rotundifolia the mexican sunflower.
How Many Different Types of Sunflowers Are There?
Sunflowers are commonly situated into three types: tall sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, and colorful sunflowers. The names are pretty self explanatory as tall sunflowers grow over 10′ tall, dwarf sunflowers around 12″ tall, and colorful sunflowers grow into pink, maroon, violet, yellow, orange sunflowers that can be tall or dwarf.
Sunflower varieties can also be differentiated into single stem and branching types. Single stems have one flower head and branching types have multiple flower heads.
There are also pollenless varieties of sunflowers available. Sunflowers are commonly grown commercially for their oil so some varieties are selected based on their oil producing capabilities.
The following are popular varieties in each category.
Mammoth-Grey Stripe – A classic tall sunflower this mammoth variety will grow 9-12′ tall and produce sunflowers with flower heads 12″ wide. Mammoth sunflowers are an heirloom strain and there are multiple varieties available.
American Giant – These sunflower plants can get 15′ tall. They’re sturdier than other giant sunflowers and have smaller flower heads. Good for making a wind break or wall of sunflowers!
SkyScraper – This is another classic tall sunflower that can grow 12′ or taller with sunflower heads that can reach 14″ across. There are also Skyscraper branching sunflowers available that grow extremely tall and produce many smaller flower heads.
Giant Sungold – These branching sunflowers have multiple heads that can be 10″ in diameter. They produce sunflower heads with a shaggy carpet look.
Strawberry Blonde – 5-6′ tall sunflower plants with a pretty pink and burgundy flower heads that hold their petals.
Red Sun – These sunflowers grow to around 6′ tall and produce flower heads 6-8″ wide. As the name states these flowers are a dark red color.
Italian White – 4′-5′ tall sunflower plants that is branching and produce lots of 4″ wide flowers.
Shock–o–Lat – This sunflower grows about 6′ tall and is a branching type sunflower that grows multiple 6″ heads that have a burgundy center and petals with yellow colored edges.
Teddy Bear – Named for their fluffy looking flower Teddy Bear produces 8-12″ tall flowers with around 4″ sunflower heads that look like the fur on a teddy bear or a shag carpet.
Little Becka – This is a colorful dwarf sunflower that is a branching type sunflower that will grow to 3′ tall and produce multiple 6″ flower heads that have a yellow halo around the center part of the flowers and then petals that are burgundy and tipped with yellow again.
ProCut Series – This series created by sunflower growers is a favorite amongst cut flower sunflower producers. This series has a range of colors including yellow, red, and lemon and produces single stalk sunflowers that are pollenless. Being pollenless they are neat and clean after being cut and brought inside.
Sunrich Series – Yellow headed blooms that are 6″ wide. This series has yellow and orange sunflowers that grow to be 4′-6′ tall and are pollenless.
How Many Different Varieties of Sunflowers Are There?
There are something like 100 commonly grow sunflower varieties. As of writing this article JohnnySeeds offers 55 varieties of sunflowers, edenbrothers 47 varieties, harrisseeds 58, Burpee 54, and urbanfarmer 28.
Combining these domestic seed suppliers with what international ones offer and we could get to 100 different sunflower varieties without much trouble.
Are There Different Size Sunflowers?
Sunflowers do come in different sizes with dwarf sunflowers growing form 1-3 feet tall and tall sunflower varieties reaching up to 15 feet tall. Many sunflower varieties fall into the 5-6′ range.
Check out “How Tall Do Sunflowers Grow?“.
Best Sunflower Plants for Edible Seeds
Most sunflowers that are grown for their seeds to eat fall under the tall category. Mammoth Grey Stripe mentioned earlier and many other giant varieties.
Royal Hybrid 1121 – These sunflowers stand about 7′ tall and are known to be good producers of sunflower seeds.
Titan Sunflower – This large sunflower grows around 12′ tall and produces sunflowers that are 12-18″ in diameter and full of edible seeds.
Rare Types & Multiple Headed Sunflower Varieties
Any branching type of sunflower has multiple heads. Here are two interesting types of sunflowers and a third that’s a very pretty multi headed sunflower.
Maximilian – This sunflower is native to North America. It’s a branching type sunflower and produces lots of flower heads that are around 3″ wide. It grows to 5′-8′ tall and displays lots of flower heads with a button sized center and yellow petals around.
Sun-Fill Purple – This variety is recommended for cutting. The flowers grow 5-6′ tall and produce flowers with petals that are green and purple rimmed. The flowers have an interesting shape made by the petals being stacked on top of each other.
Chocolate – This branching variety sunflower has multiple 6″ heads that have a uniform brown color across the head of the flower and the petals.
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